'Revamped' Law and Order Situation Showcased by Yogi Govt, But is it Enough to Woo Investors?
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath placed law and order over other imperatives such as infrastructure, power supply, and roads as a priority requirement to facilitate ease of doing business.
Yogi Adityanath (Image: News18 Creative)
New Delhi: At the just-concluded Uttar Pradesh Investors’ Summit in Lucknow, the state’s “repaired, reformed” law and order apparatus was featured as the Yogi Adityanath-led government’s tour de force before the corporate and political elite.
The chief minister, in his inaugural speech, placed law and order over other imperatives such as infrastructure, power supply, and roads as a priority requirement to facilitate ease of doing business. “We have restored the rule of law and brought in order,” claimed Yogi, while adding that all necessary were being taken.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke after the CM, also talked about the same. “Citizens of the state earlier lived in fear and insecurity. It was impossible for even the common man to live normally, let alone industrialists. Nobody dared to dream of things like middle-class aspirations or the ambition of youths as the ambiance was filled with negativity. Yogiji has transformed negativity into positivity and ushered in new hope,” he said.
Home minister Rajnath Singh minced no words and straightaway stressed that there was “zero tolerance” for corruption and criminalisation in the Yogi regime.
As a political strategy, projecting a strong anti-criminal stance might yield results with certain sections that felt squeamish after the previous Samajwadi Party regime leaders gave no thought to thrashing a law-abiding police officer.
The upper-middle-class and middle-class sections of the society are happy with the current government’s crackdown on ‘Goondas’, ‘extortionists’ and ‘browbeaters’, who made lives miserable during the SP rule.
In the prelude to the 2017 assembly polls, BJP successfully played up “palayan” or the alleged forced migration of Hindus from parts of western UP by “communal” gangs “patronised” by the then powerful minister from Rampur Azam Khan. The BJP is now offering anecdotal evidence to “prove” that those who left for Uttarakhand or Haryana are back in business in their hometowns, thanks to “effective” policing.
When Yogi justified the killing of 30 gangsters and criminals during a record 1000+ encounters carried out since he came to power, his supporters found no merit in the objections raised by human rights watchers. He candidly spoke of how the administration and police were licensed to use a gun to answer the “language of the gun”.
In his latest “avatar”, Yogi’s enlarged worldview and growing ambitions transcend the limited needs of the traders from Bijnor and Saharanpur. He dreams of mega-bucks to be pulled in from outside UP while the investors from the south and west, used to attending investment jamborees in Akhilesh Yadav’s time, want bang for their buck.
During his speech, Yogi talked of Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) worth Rs 4,28,000 crore being signed at the Lucknow meet and added that it was exactly the sum earmarked for UP’s annual budget this year. Rhymes, alliterations and word-play may work in an election speech but surely investors need more persuasive arguments to be nudged into a state that bears the unfortunate moniker of “Ulta (upside-down) Pradesh?”
Take the power sector, a domain which the Centre looks to seriously revamp. The state’s power sector regulator, the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission, has approved steps that can enhance the financial position of state utilities while also increasing opportunities for private companies in transmission, distribution, engineering, and procurement and construction business.
In transmission, the regulator approved a capital expenditure of Rs 20,000 crore for fiscal years 2018 and 2020 (FY 18-20), twice the amount invested in FY 15-16. Of this, 81 percent or Rs 16,200 crore has been set aside for new projects. While notionally new measures can give a leg-up to UP’s depressed power sector, their success will depend on effective follow-on.
Right now, power sector initiatives smack of populism rather than long-term recalibration. These include hugely subsidised connections for BPL card-holders, online connections within seven days, “trust” billing to be filed by the consumers (subject to penalty for wrongdoing), special police stations to fix accountability for power pilferage and installing meters in all government homes to stem the misuse arising from unmetered connections.
On the other hand, the Rs 30,000 crore Poorvanchal Expressway, intended to connect eastern UP roads, is critical to the development of the east and Bundelkhand as the new industrial hubs. The east and Bundelkhand are bereft of a dedicated freight corridor, power, and water.
The Yogi government is still struggling to get a fix over UP’s tricky bureaucracy, which has over the years has got segregated into caste blocks with the rise of Dalits as a powerful administrative entity.
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